Eric Hu, Senior Strategist, Engagement Planning, at Area 23 (part of the FCB Health network), went from being a performing artist, to freelance strategist at big name agencies, to working full-time at a healthcare agency (and being a commercial photographer and microinfluencer on top of that!). Hear about pitching yourself to a company as a student, overcoming imposter syndrome as a young strategist, the pros and cons of freelancing, his decision to work at a healthcare agency, and why we should seek to work with people who are different than us.
How hustling and working for start-ups to pay for his education landed him a job at Deloitte Digital, which led him into the ad industry, and how to pitch yourself to a company when you’re a student.
The struggles he faced as a young strategist, and tips on approaching interviews and negotiating salaries.
The pros and cons of freelancing.
His experience being a commercial photographer and microinfluencer and how it influences him as a strategist.
His decision to work at a healthcare agency after working with a bunch of big consumer brands, and seeking to work with people who are different than you.
Why we shouldn’t give ourselves white hair working in the industry, and his 100% coffee chat guarantee.
“They don’t want to be in a room grilling you [in an interview]. They don’t want this to be a top-down relationship. They want this to be conversation, sitting side by side. A few tricks and tips that I always think about coming in at the junior strategy level is, how can you metaphorically make them feel like you’re sitting side by side with them?”
“Clients look for agencies because they want a third party opinion. Agencies want freelancers because they want someone who hasn’t been bogged down by baggage from the client, the politics of the client, the history of the work…they want fresh eyes and a fresh perspective, so that’s really your strength.”
“Working in healthcare—everyday I come in and I look at these brands that may to some people seem boring or dry, or not as sexy as the Nikes, SpaceXes, or Teslas of the world. But, wouldn’t you rather work on something where everything you do shifts the needle a whole bunch? Wouldn’t it be nice to see your tangible impact on something?”
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Musician turned marketer, still a great performer. Originally on track to become a violinist, Eric L Hu is now a strategist and photographer passionate about the intersection of commerce and culture.
Recognized by CNBC and Business Insider for his entrepreneurial approach, Eric frequently collaborates with brands like Arc'teryx, Land Rover, and The Wall Street Journal to document National Parks across the globe. In 2018, he was given the honor of presenting his cross-country road trip with Mercedes-Benz at the EyeEm Photography Festival in Berlin.
Before commercial photography, Hu began his career incubating startups; after building a consumer product later acquired by Capital One, he has since pursued brand innovation roles at agencies like Deloitte Digital, R/GA, and Code and Theory. His process, described by former CEO of JWT as "dynamic, smart, and optimistic," leverages creative technology and ethnographic research to tackle business challenges with global brands including adidas, The New York Times, and Samsung.
Today, he is excited to explore strategic thinking at FCB Health, where he will be responsible for architecting digital ecosystems in medicine. Hu continues to spend his free time exploring the future of retail, mobility, and design.